The Bible and other scriptures promise us we can receive gifts of the Spirit to help us in our spiritual journey, sometimes referred to in churches as a Christian walk. The Bible discusses a variety of gifts Christians can receive from God, through the Holy Ghost:
4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will (1 Corinthians 12 in the King James version of the Bible).
Each of us is given different gifts, depending on what God feels we need. However, we can pray and ask God to give us other gifts, if our desire is based on worthy goals of serving Him, and not on personal ego.
These gifts come to us through the Holy Ghost and most are bestowed on baptism. However, some gifts are with us before then, allowing us to find God and truth. They are given only for spiritual purposes and we must never use them for personal gain. They aren’t to be used to garner admiration or financial gain, or to harm others. Instead, they’re used to build God’s kingdom and to improve our faith in God.
The Bible and other scriptures refer to a number of these gifts. The verses above give us some of them. Other gifts include the gift of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, the gift of translation, wisdom, knowledge, teaching wisdom and knowledge, knowing that Jesus is the Christ, believing the testimonies of others, prophecy, healing, working miracles, and faith.
Once given a gift, we have a responsibility to magnify the gift. The parable of the talents teaches us that when we’re given something, we must not just selfishly guard it, but make it more than it was. After praying to learn which gifts we have, and praying for any additional gifts we long to have to improve our ability to serve God, we need to study the Bible and other scriptures to learn what God says about each of these gifts. Then we need to use them to serve God. We can’t hide them away or we’ll lose them. As we use these gifts, our gifts will grow and we’ll be better able to serve God and to live a Christ-like life.
We have to be extremely careful in the use of gifts. Satan can imitate these gifts. The imitations are pale in comparison to the real thing, but they can deceive those who aren’t careful. For instance, fortune telling can be mistaken for prophecy. However, we can discern the difference by looking at how these gifts are used. A fortune teller might claim to foretell something that will happen to movie stars, or offer other spiritually meaningless promises, rather than the teachings of God. If someone who claims to be a prophet requires you to pay him before he will give you what he claims is God’s message, he is misusing any gift he might have. The best way to know who really has a spiritual gift, or to know if you have the gift yourself, is to pray and ask God.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5, King James version of the Bible).
Spiritual gifts are sacred and must be treated that way. Over the next few weeks, we will examine some of the gifts God offers His children and discuss ways to treat them sacredly.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.